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News on Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Sport

Australian Swimming launches new member protection policy
Australian Swimming has launched its new member protection policy, which sets out procedures for dealing with all kinds of harassment, including sexual abuse, racial and sexuality bias, and bullying coaching tactics. Under the policy, every person over the age of 18 involved in swimming who might have unsupervised contact with children - be it coaches, volunteers or even older swimmers - will be required to sign a declaration that they have not been convicted on any child-related offenses. The policy, "Swim In-Line," will be made retrospective to the start of 2000. (Fox Sports Australia, 12/12/02)
posted 2/10/2003 06:32:31 PM

Case against coach dropped
A judge has dismissed charges of criminal sexual assault and aggravated sexual abuse against a Northbrook, Illinois skating coach, who had been accused of engaging in sexual activities with a 17-year-old girl he had coached for several years. The indictments were dismissed Dec. 3 because the state's attorney failed to prove that the girl held the coach in a position of trust at the time of their alleged encounter. The judge ruled that this was not the case because he stopped coaching her before the Nov. 10, 2001, incident. Prosecutors had argued that a position of trust can be established early and can continue long after any formal coaching arrangement has been terminated. (Northbrook Star, 12/12/02)
posted 12/13/2002 07:25:43 PM

Sports abuse and prevention seminar hosted
Sports abuse and prevention was the focus of a seminar hosted by the Del Rio (Texas) Boys and Girls Club this week. The seminar, conducted by the Kids Sports Network, was attended by about 30 coaches, counselors and professionals. The emphasis on the seminar was for coaches and parents to provide an environment which stresses the enjoyment of the games to children, regardless of what sport or age. To help achieve that, the organizers of the seminar provided tips and suggestions for parents and coaches on a variety of topics aimed at interaction with youth athletes including recognizing signs of physical abuse, avoiding verbal abuse and recognizing and avoiding inappropriate sexual contact between adults and youth. (Del Rio News Herald, 12/6/02)
posted 12/12/2002 02:33:39 PM

Little League plans sex offender checks
All Little League managers, coaches and volunteers will be required to undergo checks against state lists of convicted sex offenders as part of a new policy, which the league said is a first for a national youth sports organization. Previously, Little League has advised local leagues to do background checks on volunteers only. The decision to make background checks mandatory influenced by the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, a spokesman said. (CNN, 10/9/02)
posted 10/9/2002 10:15:11 AM

Graham James lawsuit will go to trial
A lawsuit filed by an unidentified former youth hockey player who was coached by Graham James will go to trial next spring, after efforts to reach a settlement failed. The suit was filed against James, the Swift Current Broncos, the Western Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey Association and others who allegedly should have known that James "sexually assaulted, molested, harassed and abused" players and should have prevented him from coaching. James served 42 months in prison for abusing former player Sheldon Kennedy and the player filing this suit. (Calgary Herald, 6/20/02)
posted 6/20/2002 04:08:00 PM

Coaching bill passes in Connecticut
The Connecticut state senate gave final approval to a bill which would criminalize sexual contact between private coaches and instructors and their students under age 18. This bill is expected to be signed into law soon. The significance of this bill is that while Connecticut's current age of consent is 16, the bill recognizes the special influence that coaches and instructors can have over students who are older than that, and so extends the age criteria by two years, bringing private coaches into line with laws already covering high school teachers. Jessica Roos, a former figure skater, was instrumental in the passage of this bill. The sponsoring legislator was State Rep. J. Brendan Sharkey of Hamden. (Hartford Courant, 5/8/02)
posted 5/30/2002 07:08:32 PM

Hearing held on bill targeting coach-student sexual contact
The Connecticut Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill sponsored by state representative Brendan Sharkey that would would make it a crime for any coach or instructor to engage in sexual intercourse or have sexual contact with players and students under age 19. The bill is supported by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and would potentially close a loophole in existing state laws that have criminalized sexual contact between students and teachers or school employees. The proposed law is believed to be among the first in the U.S. that would cover cases involving private coaches. (Hartford Courant, 3/21/02)
posted 3/21/2002 06:38:55 PM

Scottish youth sports association warns coaches of athlete-protection rules
The Scottish Boys and Girls Youth Club Association has produced a video warning coaches that new rules in place to protect child athletes against sexual assault may hamper coaches' training sessions. Tom Leishman, director of the association, said that the Protection of Children Act, which goes into effect in the U.K. on Apr. 1, will leave coaches at risk of allegations of sexual abuse if they break up fights or touch athletes below the belt. Leith Victoria club coach Joe Fortune said, "Whacking your boxer on the rump and swearing at them between rounds to get the best out of them was widely employed by legendary coach Angelo Dundee in many of Muhammed Ali's fights... I believe that kids must be protected against genuine perverts but I think that this new measure is a bit severe." (Edinburgh Evening News, 2/4/02)
posted 2/5/2002 07:14:46 PM

Duke University to consider policy prohibiting coach-student dating
Duke University is considering adopting a policy which would prohibit staff members, including coaches, from dating students that they supervise. Under the proposed new policy, professional misconduct charges could be brought against those who fail to disclose romantic or sexual relationships with students classified as their "subordinates." (Durham Herald-Sun, 1/27/02)
posted 2/5/2002 07:06:21 PM

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